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Full text of "My country and my people"

LITERARYLIFE                              2gl
thought coloured with emotion, and the Chinese think always with emotion^ and rarely with their analytical reason. It is no mere accident that the Chinese regard the belly as the seat of all their scholarship and learning, as may be seen in such expressions, "a bellyful of essays" or "of scholarship.59  Now Western psychologists have proved the belly to be the seat of our emotions, and as no one thinks completely without emotion, I am ready to believe that we think with the belly as well as with the head. The more emotional the type of thinking, the more are the intestines responsible for one's thoughts.  What Isadora Duncan said about women's thoughts originating In the abdomen and travelling upward, while men's thoughts originate in the head and travel downward, is true of the Chinese. This corroborates my theory about the femininity of the Chinese mind (Chapter III).   Whereas we say in English that a man "ransacks his brain" for ideas during a composition, we say in Chinese that he "ransacks his dry intestines'* for a good line of poetry or prose. The poet Su Tungp'o once asked his three concubines after dinner what his belly contained. The cleverest one, Ch'aoyiln, replied that he had "a bellyful of unseasonable thoughts/5 The Chinese can write good poetry because they think with their intestines.
Further, there is a relation between Chinese language and poetry. Poetry should be crisp, and the Chinese language is crisp. Poetry should work by suggestion, and the Chinese language is full of contractions which say more than what the words mean. Poetry should express ideas by concrete imagery, and the Chinese language revels in word-imagery. Finally, the Chinese language, with its clear-cut tones and its lack of final consonants, retains a sonorous singing quality which has no parallel in non-tonal languages. Chinese prosody is based on the balance of tonal values, as English poetry is based on accent. The four tones are divided into two groups: the "softn tones (called p'ing), long and theoretically even but really circumflex, and the "hard" tones (called tseh}^ which consist of acute, grave and abrupt tones, the last theoretically ending in p, t, A's, which have disappeared in modem mandarin, The Chinese ear is trained to sense the rhythm and alternation of soft and hard tones. This tonal rhythm is observed evea in